Why We Need Edge Compute

We have been hearing about the increasing need for compute at the edge of our network for IoT devices.  In case you are not familiar with this concept, edge compute is ncecessary due to the amount of information that is and will be generated from IoT devices.  The problem to be addressed is typically one of three things:

  • Too much information to squeeze over the public internet
  • The network bandwidth is not functional enough due to how remote the device is for connectivity
  • devices need real-time feedback on information and these devices can’t reliably depend on the cloud applications to make critical decisions.

The easiest example of this is the ever-approaching driverless cars and trucks.  Life and death decisions on the road cannot be made by machines that need data processed in the cloud.  No one would ever put their trust in that if you were driving out in the middle of Wyoming or West Texas to connect back to a cloud application that needed to keep you safe on the road.  In this thought process, we can also include the high cost of processing data in the cloud, but that is for another time.

The result of this is critical decision apps need to live either on the device, on the local network, or both.  For the network and gateway, Cisco provides robust solutions and hardware for App developers to write these critical apps and for DevOps and Ops teams to deploy these applications to IoT edge gateways and manage their performance easily.

IoT Edge Gateways

IoT edge gateways are very important to the success of your IoT operations because they provide the gateway for your IoT devices to connect to local devices, apps and ultimately to your cloud services.  Cisco provides IoT gateways that also provide a layer of security to protect your IoT devices, and to help prevent your IoT devices from becoming the next botnet.  Cisco’s IoT gateways can also function as a standalone device, processing data directly from sensors via WiFi, wired, or serial input connections providing a battle-hardened device for the data you want to process at the edge.


Docker Tooling at the Edge

One of the ways Cisco provides ease of deployment at the Edge is to allow the use of Docker tooling to write application images for your apps.  Docker tooling allows your operations and development teams to have a standard for building and deploying IoT edge applications that are based on the same technologies you would use to write your cloud-native apps.  This helps to reduce your development and deployment costs while giving your app development teams the flexibility to write in languages they are familiar with.

Cisco Platforms for Building and Deploying Apps to the IoT Edge

We will discuss a couple of Cisco’s IoT Edge Application solutions to help with your plans for IoT success.

Cisco IOx

Cisco IOx provides a powerful platform for your Ops and App Developers to easily deploy applications to your IoT gateways.  The IOx ecosystem allows for direct deployment to IoT gateways directly through a console port and command line application.  But it also provides Fog Director which allows you to deploy your application to hundreds of thousands of IoT gateways and manage the application lifecycle of every app on every IoT gateway connected to Fog Director.  It allows you to do this programmatically through its RESTful APIs and through its easy to use Web UI.  Cisco IOx utilizes the Docker tooling we mentioned earlier to allow your Ops and app development teams to build applications in a standard format that is familiar to cloud-native apps.

IOx gives you complete control over the deployment operations by allowing you to decide how to deploy your gateways and how you control your IoT networks and how you deploy Fog Director on your network.  This solution is best for your cases where your company needs the most control over your IoT operations.

Cisco Kinetic

Building on Cisco IOx is Cisco Kinetic.  Kinetic takes the best of Cisco IOx application management and adds IoT gateway management and automates those processes and manages it for you as a cloud service.  Kinetic even provides the tools you need to auto-provision your Cisco IoT gateway devices and allows you to easily connect your gateways to your Kinetic account, providing ease of use for your Ops teams.  You do lose a bit of the control you had with IOx to decide on how to run the operations, but since Kinetic is running Cisco IOx under the hood, you still get the ability to manage your gateways and applications, but now in the cloud from anywhere in the world while lowering your need for operational resources to deploy your devices.


No matter where you are from the operational or app dev perspective for IoT Gateways.  Cisco has you covered.  Although it might seem like these technologies are competing to a degree.  They are complementary and supportive of the needs of different IoT solutions.  We at Cisco know that depending on your use case you may have different needs that may require more control or might require more outside management.  Either way, with IOx and Kinetic, Cisco has you covered.

Next, in this series, I will talk about how to extend your Ops and App development beyond the IoT Gateway with a complimentary service call Resin.io.  Check out that blog here.

Cisco DevNet – Getting Started!

Now that you have heard about using these great platforms, you are wondering, how do I get started?

Your best place for using these solutions starts with DevNet. For access to DevNet and all developer resources can signup for DevNet here: https://developer.cisco.com/join/devnet or use this QR code.

For additional learning about and using Cisco IOx you can visit the Cisco IOx website  and docs website.   Then when you are ready for development and testing, you can start with the DevNet sandbox and reserve a virtual environment for IOx

For additional learning about using Cisco Kinetic you can visit the Cisco Kinetic website and docs site.

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Jock Reed

Software Engineer

Developer Experience